Cavities are small pits that form on your teeth as a result of acid erosion. When the acids produced by plaque and oral bacteria are left to linger on the surfaces of your teeth, they begin to erode the enamel. Over time, the weakened areas of your teeth give way to cavities. Untreated cavities grow larger, weakening the structure of your tooth and increasing your risk of developing an infection. At LakeView Dental Arts, we can restore the health of teeth affected by cavities by removing decay and replacing the lost tooth structure with tooth-colored composite fillings.
Traditional Silver Fillings
Traditionally, cavities have been treated with amalgam fillings. Also known as silver fillings, these are made up of a mixture of metals, including silver, tin, and nickel, suspended in liquid mercury. While used for over 150 years, there has been some debate about whether these metals can cause health issues.
In addition to this possible health risk, silver fillings stand out in color and can leach into the surrounding tooth structure, further discoloring the affected tooth. The metal is very durable, but over time it can crack and split the natural tooth structure as it expands and contracts with hot and cold temperatures in your mouth. For these reasons, we don’t place amalgam (silver) fillings at LakeView Dental Arts. Dr. Walmsley will remove amalgam fillings if patients choose to have them replaced with tooth-colored composite ones.
Composite fillings are a newer type of filling that provides an alternative to traditional amalgam fillings. These fillings are made up of plastic, fine glass, and other materials. One of their biggest benefits is that the material matches the color of the enamel, enabling them to blend in with the rest of the tooth structure. This makes them ideal for visible teeth like your front teeth. They also do not contain any metals or mercury. The biggest downside to these fillings is that they are not as strong as amalgam. While they are fairly durable and can stand up to most normal daily use, they can chip or fracture under too much stress. For instance, if you have bruxism, which means that you clench and grind your teeth at night, the fillings could break or become damaged unless you wear a night guard.
The process for getting a composite filling is like getting an amalgam filling and can be completed in a single appointment. First, the decay is removed from the cavity. With composite fillings, less of your natural tooth structure needs to be drilled away. This is because the material bonds with the tooth rather than just sitting inside. Depending upon the size of the cavity and the location, you may not need a local anesthetic. After the decay is removed, an acid etch is applied. This creates a rough texture inside the tooth to help the composite material bond more effectively. The acid is rinsed away, and the tooth is dried. The composite material is placed inside the cavity and cured using a special light. Finally, the filling is polished and smoothed out to provide seamless results.
Schedule Your Appointment
Fillings can restore the health of teeth affected by cavities and protect your oral health. For more information, call LakeView Dental Arts today at (865) 376-9687.